Product-Driven Customer Success: What Product Managers Need to Know
Believe it or not, customer success and product management share quite a few similarities, especially when enhancing your SaaS product. These two roles can work together harmoniously, complementing each other to provide maximum user value.
Firstly, a customer success manager ensures that users reap maximum benefits from the product they've subscribed to, contributing to customer retention and boosting the company's revenue.
Secondly, a product manager delivers the product – answering the why, how, when, and what. They make decisions based on market trends and aim to develop a product that hits the sweet spot of product-market fit. Their primary objective is to increase user value.
Moreover, product managers should know the customer lifecycle and design features that boost long-term engagement and retention. Indeed, it requires strategically integrating the principles of customer success into product development to create products that attract and satisfy users in the long run.
Let's begin with some basics.
What is product-driven customer success?
Customer-centric product strategies focus on synchronizing product management with customer satisfaction and retention objectives. Therefore, it enhances the customer experience with the product at its core. This includes marketing the product's features, capabilities, and innovation as the main elements driving customer satisfaction, retention, and growth.
Moreover, implementing a product-centric strategy requires shifting from a service-focused model, where customer success starts post-purchase, to a more proactive approach, where the product shows customers how it can help achieve their desired results.
Why does SaaS product management matter?
Product management is all about steering the ship from start to finish. When you have a good product manager at the helm, they can guide a SaaS product from just the seed of an idea to its launch and beyond. They overlook a product development journey and even the user usage to ensure products evolve that meet in a way to always improve and always keep up with the market's needs.
Moreover, the product manager can develop a successful strategy to ensure that the SaaS offering isn't just something that looks good on paper but that it's something that hits the mark for customers. They're keen on what customers want, aiming to exceed those expectations. This way, customers stay happy and keep using the product long term.
Now, a lot happens behind the scenes when they coordinate with different teams, juggling technical and business skills, facing down challenges, etc. All such aspects are a testament to why SaaS product management is important. With this in place, you’d avoid ending up with a product that doesn't quite hit the spot or keep up with the changing tides.
Ideally, product management can ensure the following:
- Finding the right subscription pricing structure
- Managing customer expectations in software project management and meeting their evolving demands
- Ensuring scalability long-term
- Getting consensus on product direction across stakeholders
- Planning and prioritizing feature development
The role of product managers in product-driven customer success
Product managers work as a glue between the products and customer success. They shape the customer experience by understanding user needs and market dynamics. Their role involves steering the product direction on real solid data, ensuring that what's built aligns nicely with what the customers seek.
The major part of their work involves the following:
Customer-centric product development: Product managers must put themselves in the customer's shoes.
They will understand the issues they're dealing with, what they need, and what they expect. It's stitched into the product's design and development.
Proactive problem-solving: A product manager's job is not just about reacting to a situation that went wrong. Instead, they require spotting problems before they even happen and tackle them head-on during product design and development.
Such forward-thinking can make a big difference in customer success as a part of product management.
Blending with customer success team: Product managers should work hand-in-hand with every team, including customer success. Working in tandem leads to both teams sharing insights from different departments wherein product managers can understand what changes and improvements will boost customer success.
Make data-backed decisions: Product managers shouldn't just trust their gut. Instead, they’d need to analyze data to make decisions. Such analysis enables understanding how customers use the product to discover which features are helping or hurting customer success.
Continuous improvement: SaaS products require teams to work faster without sacrificing the code quality they release. And this is what product managers should overlook, ensuring product tweaks based on customer feedback and adapting to changing customer needs.
Implementing product-driven customer success
Product managers do have a set of tasks that can help adopt a product-driven customer success strategy.
Here’s a list of product-based commitments that product managers usually make to ensure customer success.
First, the product managers try to determine what customer success looks like for their product. This could be based on how they use the product, what customers say, or the business outcomes we see. And based on such inputs, they set measurable KPIs to monitor how the team works towards reaching these goals.
Rank feature development
The next thing the product managers do is rank feature development on what will make their customers successful. It might mean shifting the attention from what we think is "new" or "exciting" to what will help customers meet their goals.
Focus on teamwork across departments
An ideal scenario in a SaaS business will have the product management and customer success teams working together wherein they share their knowledge. This ensures every effort is taken in the same direction, leading to customer success through product enhancements.
Collect and analyze customer feedback
The product managers must collect and study what customers say by conducting SaaS surveys.
It must ask questions about product usage, customer effort score (CES, Post-purchase customer satisfaction survey, etc. This can help us understand what they need and expect from your business.
Moving toward a product-driven customer success strategy can be a game-changer in how businesses leverage customer retention and growth. SaaS companies may boost customer happiness and loyalty, reducing churn, optimizing LTV, generating brand advocates, and increasing revenue. All such results are possible if the product manager successfully nurtures a product-centric philosophy.
Working with different teams in a SaaS business setup, the product managers act as a guiding force behind product development, championing the voice of the customer, aligning diverse teams towards a common goal, and making strategic decisions based on data, insights, and market dynamics.